A detailed/informative summary of the six season show.
Mama's Family mined comedy from a squabbling family
in the Midwestern blue-collar suburb of Raytown.
The noisy clan, headed by Mama, a buxom, gray-
haired widow with sharp opinions and a sharper
tongue who shared her small house with her high-
strung sister, Fran, a journalist for a local paper.
Mama's lazy, dim-witted son, Vint, a locksmith by
trade, moved in at the start of the series with his
troublesome teenage children, Buzz and Sonja, after
his wife ran off to become a Las Vegas showgirl.
Much to Mama's disgust, Vint soon took up with the
flirtatious neighbor, Naomi ("that floozy!"). The
two were married in early 1983, and Naomi moved in
too. Further uproar was caused by the periodic
visits of Mama's two married daughters, the foul-
mouthed Eunice and the snobbish Ellen. Ed was
Eunice's dolt of a husband.
The series moved to first-run syndication in 1986.
Fran had recently passed away and Ed and Eunice
had moved to Florida. They had neglected to mention
this to their delinquent son Bubba who, after
serving a term in juvenile hall for car theft,
ended up living with Mama in Fran's old room, much
to the consternation of Naomi and Vint. Iola was
the prissy neighbor who barely concealed her
romantic designs on Vinton.
Seemingly out of the blue, NBC picked up the half-hour sitcom Mama's Family as a midseason replacement in January, 1983. The series was based on the sketches (and a 1978 special) featuring the bickering family from 'The Carol Burnett Show'.
The production was headed by Joe Hamilton and Carol Burnett made several appearances during the show's first season as Eunice, and these episodes stand as some of the funniest sitcoms ever filmed (believe it or not).
Regulars were Ken Berry as dullard brother Vint, Rue McClanahan ('Maude') as Thelma's sister Fran and Dorothy Lyman (Opal on 'All My Children') as the slutty neighbor Naomi Oates. Eric Brown and Karin Argoud played the bratty kids.
Back (occasionally) were Betty White as sister Ellen and Harvey Korman (who directed many episodes) served as the show's narrator. When the program returned for a second season, Carol Burnett was nowhere to be seen. She and her husband split up - Burnett got the house and he got the show, presumably.
That same year, Burnett also returned for a few episodes of the daytime soap 'All My Children', something she first did for fun in 1976.
After limping through the second season, 'Mama's Family' was canceled by NBC in 1984, resurfaced for re-runs in the summer of 1985, then returned in a long syndicated run with all-new episodes in 1986. The syndicated version had a slightly different cast, inferior scripts, and no more Burnett or Korman (Betty White appeared on only one episode of the syndicated series, a slight reworking of a funny 'Carol Burnett Show' skit).
NBC replaced 'Mama's Family' with 'The Golden Girls' - starring 'Mama's Family' regulars Betty White and Rue McClanahan - and got the hit they were looking for.
CBS bought the rights to air/make more episodes Mama's Family from NBC in 1985. It is unlawful to have same actors/set/series without buying the rights to the show, therefore, since NBC was not interested in the show and CBS was, the show was then revamped and aired on CBS. Usually many changes take place when a series goes from the original network to first-run syndication. Another example of this would be from the television show Family Matters, in which the last couple of seasons I believe was bought by CBS, who renewed the show.